Why did the Fat Squirrel cross the road… Because it was nuts!
You could probably change this joke a little and keep the same punch line
Why did the person go to the gym…?
Why did the person go for a run…?
People often get a little nutty when it comes to exercise, only to burn out in the flames of their own passion. I’m no different, and you probably aren’t either! When I got back into triathlons a few years ago, my passion for fitness was good enough to keep me motivated in the short term.
But that won’t last forever…
Figure 1: How long people maintain a New Years Resolution1
46% of people achieving a goal is pretty low! So, what can we do to increase our odds? One study2 looked at common attributes of the people that did achieve their goals:
- Self Efficacy
- Skills to change
- Readiness to change
The skills to change is going to be covered throughout the rest of the blog series, and that is where I am going to take you through writing out an exercise plan, choosing intensity, learning about nutrition, improving form, etc. Today I want to focus on using self-efficacy and readiness to change, or what I really think of as MOTIVATION!
I’m a healthcare professional, but back before I returned to doing triathlons I didn’t look or act like one. I was 30 pounds heavier than my typical weight and made “Wing Night” much more often than the gym.
Initially, my motivation for triathlons was simply to get back in shape. When it comes to getting my butt off the couch, that wasn’t enough for me and seldom is enough for everyone else.
I’ve found there are three steps to find a motivation that will actually help you achieve your goals:
- Identify the person you want to be
- Believe in your ability to make it happen (AND verify)
- Make sure the Reward > Cost
The person you want to be
What will you look/feel like if you achieve your goal?
For me, I didn’t want to just get in shape…I wanted to be a successful triathlete. I knew that I would be having children soon, so I figured this was my shot to be competitive.
Whether you want to be the person who crosses the finish line, stands on the podium, or just looks great in a bathing suit, imagining the person you want to be will go a long way in achieving your goals. When you don’t want to get up in the morning for that early workout, think about that person you want to be and what they would do.
It is much easier if you have clear expectations of who you must be in order to achieve what you want to do.
Believe You Can Do It (And Verify)!
It is pretty obvious that goals shouldn’t be too hard that there is no way you can achieve them. Goals also shouldn’t be so easy that you barely have to make an effort. So, if you are making this goal that is enough of a reach (but not too much) then you really need to believe and commit to doing it.
I like to take this a step further. I want to verify I can achieve my goal before I commit to it. The way I do this is by identifying barriers and then playing to my strengths. I start by imagining that I fail miserably with my goal and think about all the reasons why. These are my barriers.
Next, I list strategies to overcome these barriers to verify that I can do it. This is where my strengths come in. Now I am not just blindly committing to a lofty goal, but I have analyzed and I am ready to take actions to achieve it.
Reward > Cost
Now that you know what type of person you must be and the barriers that you will face, how much will it cost you?
I could have set my triathlon goals to place in National Championships, but I knew it would require too much time away from my new wife. The reward was just not worth sacrificing something that is much higher up on my priority list.
It is easy to get caught up in a goal and all of its glory. Do yourself and your loved ones a family and don’t forget to talk about what the true cost is of seeing it through.
I started with this topic because I truly feel that without the right motivation all the exercise advice in the world won’t help. Whether you have written your goals down or not, go through the three steps listed here and make sure that you have the motivation and the means to achieve them.
Social responsibility is another great way to achieve your goals! Share your goal for 2016 in the comments. You never know who will see it and be able to offer help. If anyone needs helps with goals leave a comment as well and I will send you a message about helping you write your goals.
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I’ve got a few topics I am between for next week’s post. Vote below and I will do the one that gets the most votes.
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Until next time, enjoy your new goals and keep working to be part of that 46% who make it happen!
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